COMMACK, NY – Henri’s downgrading to tropical storm status was good news, but County Director Steve Bellone said Suffolk officials were still concerned about the damage flooding and high winds can cause , so that urban search and rescue teams were deployed to help stranded residents.
Bellone said officials are “very aware” of the fact that just over a year ago Tropical Storm Isaias did not directly hit the area, but it still cut power in 650. 000 homes and businesses.
“As we are at the height of this storm, we continue to remain vigilant,” Bellone said during a press briefing at the Department of Public Works maintenance yard in Commack on Sunday.
The Fire Island evacuation took place late last night and was “successful” and so far around 20 families have sought emergency shelter overnight, but mostly in the East End, Bellone said. .
As authorities prepare for the worst, hoping for the best, heavy rains, flooding after high tide to high tide, sustained winds between 30 and 40 mph over the East End and possibly gusts between 50 and 60 mph the western part of the county.
“We could see small bands of rain continuing throughout the day, night and until Monday,” he said. “So it’s a big storm. It’s a storm that’s not going to go away any time soon, but we are prepared, and we have prepared for a major weather event.”
Bellone met earlier today with Fire, Rescue and Emergency Commissioner John Jordan, Acting Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron and Department of Public Works Commissioner Joe Brown at the Emergency Operations Center in the county to strategize and brief urban search and rescue teams.
The teams have tall, fast boats that can reach people trapped in cars, and they’re ready to head to the north and south shores, as well as the center of the county and the East End. The teams came from the New York Police Department, the New York Fire Department, the New York State Police, as well as the Erie County team.
“It’s really an example of how people come together, and we come together in New York to work together in a crisis,” Bellone said.
The Department of Public Works has teams that are strategically placed throughout the county. “Ready to follow up on any damage that has occurred, and to work with cleaning up the PSEG and clearing the roads, getting them ‘ready for power restoration if necessary,” Bellone said.
He told members of the public looking for shelter to call 1-877-Red Cross. To report a non-urgent matter, residents can call 631-852-COPS.